Heuchera is perennial foliage plants, commonly known as alumroot and coral bells.
Native to North America, these evergreen foliage plants belong to the Saxifragaceae family.
They require less care, frost and water tolerance. But, in the beginning, if you do not establish them properly, you won’t be able to enjoy their beauty.
In this post, you will get all the information about how to grow and care for Heuchera.
So, let’s start:
Table of Contents
How does Heuchera look like
Coral bells are one of the popular foliage plants.
Just like Hostas and Coleus they also have many species and cultivar or hybrid.
They have almost 37 species, however, the modern world with the use of hybridization between different species developed better and colorful cultivars.
These cultivars are differentiated on the basis of shapes, sizes, and colors. Coral bells have big, broad leaves that form dense mounds of foliage.
Also, produce small bell-shaped flowers that bloom in spring or early summer.
These are rich in nectar flowers, attract beautiful butterflies and hummingbirds, plus make beautiful flower cuttings.
Are they frost hardy?
They are frost hardy which thrives in the hardiness zone 4-8. Grow 12 – 36 inches tall in height and spread 12-18 inches wide.
Coral bells are also used as ground plants just like Asiatic jasmine and generally planted by gardeners in containers, gardens, borders, rocks, and woodland.
When to plant Heuchera
The best time to plant coral bells is in early spring or late winter. Depending upon your region or climate condition decide when to plant.
Where to plant
Heuchera does well in both sun and shade. But, it does mean planting in full sun or shade.
The best place to plant is in the spot where they get early morning sunlight and afternoon shade, they require at least six hours of sunlight.
The requirement of sunlight also depends upon their varieties.
Varieties and cultivars with dark foliage like ‘Obsidian’ do well in full sunlight whereas light-colored foliage prefer shade like ‘Electra’
How to propagate heuchera plants
You can propagate coral bells from seeds and by division. Propagation from seeds does not guarantee to grow as a parent plant because most of them are hydrides.
If you want to grow from seeds:
Then first start growing in a small pot and later transplant them in the garden.
If you have a green thumb then definitely; you can grow directly in the ground.
Take 2-3 fresh seeds and sprinkle on the soil, do not show them as they need sunlight to germinate.
Use nutrient-rich soil, add organic fertilizer like tea bags and banana pill to the bottom of the pot. This will save you from feeding fertilizer in the growing season.
Place the pot in the windowsill and spray water to keep the soil moist.
Generally, it takes a couple of weeks for germination, so have patience.
When seedlings grow 5-6 inches long transplant them outdoors.
Are coral bells easy to grow from seeds?
Maybe, but growing from seeds is time-consuming, plus most of them do not grow similar to their parent plant. As most of them are hybrids of different species. (Ask when buying)
The best method to propagate is from division. By division of big heuchera plants, you can achieve similar child plants.
However, many hydrides do not prefer division, check plant labels specified as not for propagation (division).
When to divide
Divide coral bell when they get dry and old, by dividing you can regrow multiple new green and healthy heuchera.
Here what to do:
The best time for division is in early spring. Spring is the growing season for all plants which promotes new growth quickly.
Start the division process when the climate is cloudy. As the plant gets dried they easily toss it out from the ground.
Before division first, decide where you want to plant their parts. You can regrow in containers, borders, and soil beds.
Grab gardening gloves and make the soil soft by scratching the surface.
Sprinkle plenty of growing fertilizer on the soil, it will help them to grow faster.
Extirpate or pull out the old clump of heuchera from the ground, using your hands.
Divide the group of branches into individual stem cuttings using shear.
Snip off all the leaves from the bottom of the stems, so that when you sow in the soil roots start growing.
Take a sharp shear and cut the bottom end of the stems until the white-colored tissue gets visible.
Do not plant if the end side has brown spots, it might not grow properly.
Make stand these stem cuttings directly in the soil using your hands, do not sow too deep. (2-3 inches is enough.)
Keep at least 5-6 inches gap between each stem cutting, otherwise, the area gets crowded when they get mature. This leads to many problems.
Show patience, it nearly takes 14 days to grow new roots and a month to get established. You do not need to confirm their growth.
After some weeks you will notice new foliage start growing.
How to grow heuchera in pots
Heuchera grows very well in containers or pots. In fact, they are one of the most comfortable perennial plants in pots. As they are drought tolerant and do not mind in small spaces.
Here what to plant:
Take a medium-sized pot about 6-8 inches in diameter that has drainage holes for water flow.
Put plenty of small stones or rocks in the bottom to create air space and fill the pot with potting mix soil.
Fill ⅓ of the pot with soil then fill organic compost like tea bags and then cover it with soil.
Plant heuchera in the center of the pot.
Do not plant too deep, keep the root clumps slightly higher than the soil.
Pour water to make the soil moist and place the pot in a sunnier spot. Do not place in direct sunlight.
When you want to overwinter your plant, then simply relocate the pot in a dark room and do not water when they dormant.
Generally, Coral bells bloom in spring and summer.
Will they spread
Heuchera is an evergreen plant, if you plant them in a limited space like a container and pot then they won’t spread much. But in the garden they cover a wide area, you have to trim occasionally to maintain their shape.
Some popular varieties
Here are some popular varieties and cultivars of Heuchera that you can grow in your home garden.
Let’s see them:
Heuchera ‘Stormy Seas’
This is a vigorous cultivar that forms a dense, oblong-shaped mound of foliage. Initially, their foliage is purplish-bronze that fades into a green cover with the slightly silver veil.
Heuchera does not need much care, however, there are some basic conditions they need to thrive.
Let’s discuss them:
Good drainage is a must, they do not like to stand in water. Plant in rich and humorous soil with pH levels somewhere between 6-7.
They thrive best in gritty and sandy soil, traditionally they are grown in rock gardens where the plant clumps remain drained and dry.
Do not plant in clay soil, it promotes root rot which is definitely not good.
Most of the coral bells prefer partial shade, planting in full sun or intense sunlight may fade colored foliage.
Especially light-colored foliage, cannot tolerate full sun just like ‘pale skin’ cannot. If you plant in full sun; you have to water frequently to keep the soil moist.
However, planting in the full shade can also be prone to fungal disease and cause wilting. Plant where they get 6 at least hours of sunlight.
Temperatuer and humidity
Generally, coral bells thrive well in hardiness zones 4 through 9, although it depends upon the variety which you are growing and how hot and cold it gets.
Adding too much water can cause several problems like root rot and fungal infection.
Water only when you feel the soil get dry, if you have planted in full sun check regularly. In shade, they can live without water for longer.
When water does not wet the foliage and stems, try to keep the body part dry. They may get infected if they remain wet for too long.
A good practice is to water directly in the base of the plant. If you know if the foliage starts turning yellow and brown.
Spread mulch around the base of the coral bells. Mulch helps to keep the soil moist, plus protect roots in winter from night water showers.
Coral bells crowns can heave above the soil in the winter, mulch prevents the freezing cycle that pushes plants up. Check periodically that the roots cannot get exposed.
Coral bells have low feeding requirements. Avoid heavy application of quick-release fertilizer, as this can inhibit flowering.
In the spring feed coral bells with ½ inches of organic compost or a light amount of slow-release fertilizer.
Container grown heuchera should feed with water-soluble fertilizers to replenish nutrition (follow instructions behind the fertilizer packet.)
When you notice any yellow-brown foliage or flowers snip off them. This will make coral bells look neat and promote new growth; this is called deadheading.
Yellow-brown foliage can form if plants get waterlogged or have poor air circulation.
In frost, they stop new growth and go dormant. If you have planted it in a container, then shift it to a dark place and stop watering. This will send them dormant; bring them back outside in next season.
Transplant in the same soil level as they had earlier root clump, do not sow too deep.
If you want to transplant from the pot then, take a grub hook and toss out the plant. Clear all soil from roots and sow them in the soil.
How to take Heuchera cuttings
Take a shear and cut the node stems. Do not rip or tear stems apart as this can cause permanent damage. You can take their flower cutting to make a group and keep it a vase.